Cornwall is one of Great Britain's most charming counties, located along the rugged southwestern tip of the country's Atlantic Ocean coastline. The charming peninsular county is home to iconic natural areas such as the popular spiritual pilgrimage site Saint Nectan’s Glen, the dramatic rocky Bedruthan Steps, and Land's End, which forms one end of England's famed "First and Last" cross-country journey. Visitors can explore historic sites such as the restored Lost Gardens of Heligan botanical garden facility or take in a theatrical performance at the Minack Theatre, considered to be one of the world's greatest outdoor theatrical venues. Charming resort towns such as Mousehole and St. Ives are among the nation's most popular tourist destinations, home to excellent surfing conditions and lovely art galleries and museums.
1.The Eden Project
© Ian Woolcock/stock.adobe.com
The Eden Project, also known as Edenva, is a unique biome attraction in Cornwall that showcases two biomes of plants from diverse climates and ecosystems around the world. The project was designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw and opened to the public in 2001, housed within a reclaimed china clay pit near the town of St. Blazey. Visitors can explore the biome complex's adjoining domes, which are home to thousands of plant species, and learn about the rainforest and Mediterranean environments they simulate. Unique sculptures within the biomes include a giant bee sculpture, which is showcased alongside planted landscapes and vegetable gardens. Outside, a botanical garden facility showcases plants native to the United Kingdom.
Bodelva, Par PL24 2SG, UK
Lizard Point is the southernmost point on mainland Great Britain, only bested throughout the entire United Kingdom by portions of the Isles of Scilly. The point, which is located half a mile south of Lizard village within the parish of Landewednack, is best known as the site of the 1707 Battle at the Lizard naval battle. It is home to the unique serpentine stone metamorphic rock landmark, which showcases brilliant dark green, red, and white stone veining and inspired the famed serpentine-style ornaments of the Victorian era. Since 1751, a lighthouse has stood at the point for coastline navigation. Beautiful coves populate the greater Lizard Peninsula area, along with art galleries, gift shops, and scuba diving schools and touring companies.
S W Coast Path, Lizard, Helston TR12 7NT, UK, Phone: +44-13-26-22-21-70
3.The Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Lost Gardens of Heligan, known as "Willow Tree Garden" in Cornish, are one of the United Kingdom's most popular botanical garden facilities, showcasing the beautiful 19th-century Gardenesque style of landscaping. The gardens, which are located near Mevagissey in Cornwall, were originally designed in the 18th century by members of the Cornish Tremayne family on the stunning Heligan estate. Following a fall into disrepair after World War II, the gardens were restored to their historic splendor in the 1990s. Today, they can be explored by visitors throughout the year, showcasing an Italian-style garden, a subtropical jungle area, and Europe's only remaining pineapple pit. Delicious home-cooked fare prepared with fresh produce from the gardens is served up at the facility's homestyle kitchen and bakery.
B3273, Pentewan, Saint Austell PL26 6EN, UK, Phone: +44-17-26-84-51-00
4.St Michael’s Mount
St Michael’s Mount is a lovely tidal island in Mount's Bay, home to the town of Marazion, which is connected to the mainland via a manmade granite setts causeway that is passable at certain tide conditions. The mount is managed by England's National Trust and is best known as the home of the St. Aubyn family since the 17th century. It was originally intended as the Cornish counterpart to Normandy, France's Mont Saint-Michel and was operated by the Benedictine religious order for centuries, beginning in the 11th century. Today, it is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is home to the beautiful 15th-century Chapel of St. Michael. Visitors can view sites that were showcased in major feature films such as Dracula and Never Say Never Again and can enjoy excellent opportunities to sample delicious Cornish pastries, handpicked crab entrees, and local cheeses at regional restaurants.
5.The Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre is a lovely open-air theater at Porthcurno, located just four miles from the town of Land's End in Cornwall. The theater, which was originally developed in 1932 by Rowena Cade, is known as one of the world's premiere outdoor theaters today, hosting more than 110,000 guests each year at its full season of dramas, musicals, and opera performances. It overlooks Cornwall's Atlantic Ocean coastline atop a high cliff area jutting out into the sea, creating an iconic panoramic backdrop during performances. 20 plays are produced throughout the year between Easter and September, including productions by visiting theatrical troupes from the United States. The theater can also be explored by visitors as part of self-guided tours throughout the rest of the year.
The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Penzance TR19 6JU, UK, Phone: +44-17-36-81-01-81
6.The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden
The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is one of St. Ives' most beautiful attractions, preserving the studio and garden facility of the famed 20th-century sculptor, who lived and worked at the site between 1949 and 1975. The studio, which was known as Trewyn Studio during the artist's tenure at the site, is housed within a beautiful stone-built house that preserves all of Hepworth's original furnishings, along with several unfinished pieces that were being worked on at the time of her death in a fire. It showcases the largest collection of the artist's works on display anywhere in the world, including works presented within a full sculpture garden. Visitors can also view a queue of uncut stones that were still awaiting carving at the time of the artist's acquisition of them in 1950.
Barnoon Hill, Saint Ives TR26 1AD, UK, Phone: +44-17-36-79-62-26
Mousehole is a charming village and fishing port in Cornwall, located approximately two miles south of Penzance at the shore of Mount's Bay. The town is located within the designated Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which is protected under the same protections as Great Britain's national parks. It is believed to have been founded as early as the 13th century and was completely burnt to the ground during an infamous Spanish raide in 1595. Today, the lone surviving house from that ransacking still stands, framed by beautiful new homes, businesses, and fishing port areas. Visitors can explore the city's Old World-style ambiance and view sites such as the Mousehole Wild Bird Hospital, which famously served as a sanctuary for oiled seabirds following the Torrey Canyon disaster in the 1960s.
8.Tresco Abbey Gardens
Tresco Abbey Gardens are a beautiful 17-acre garden facility on the island of Tresco within the Isles of Scilly, originally established in the 19th century by island proprietor Augustus Smith as a private garden facility. Today, the gardens are listed as a Grade I property on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens and are open to the public daily throughout the afternoon hours. Visitors can explore the gardens' beautiful historic elements, which include the remains of a Benedictine abbey dating back to 964 AD, along with historic plantings of elm, sycamore, oak, and poplar trees originally planted by Smith. More than 2,280 specimens are showcased throughout the gardens, which are also home to the Valhalla Museum, showcasing historic ship figureheads and nameboards. A seasonal cafe offers up delicious light fare between March and November.
Tresco, Isles of Scilly TR24 0QQ, UK
Bodmin Moor is a gorgeous granite moorland in northeastern Cornwall, measuring 80 square miles in size and dating back to the Carboniferous period. The moor is home to Cornwall's highest point, Brown Willy, along with the noted peak Rough Tor. Today, it is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, grazed by moorland ponies and known as a popular mining spot throughout the 19th century. It only gained its current name in the 19th century, having been formerly known as Fowey Moor until approximately 1812. It serves as the main source for many of Cornwall's rivers and still showcases gorgeous megalithic monuments from the Neolithic period and Bronze Age.
10.Saint Nectan’s Glen
Saint Nectan’s Glen is one of Cornwall's best-kept secrets, located within a woodland area in the town of Trethevy near the city of Tintagel. The glen stretches over an area of approximately one mile along the banks of the picturesque Trevillet River. It is best known as the site of Saint Nectan's Kieve, a beautiful 60-foot waterfall that travels through a hole in a rock formation. The site is frequently thought of as an important spiritual site in the United Kingdom and is frequently covered with ribbons, crystals, and other tokens of meditation. Though the waterfall site is privately owned and requires an entrance charge, the glen is free and open to the public as a park facility throughout the year.
Trethevy, Tintagel PL34 0BG, UK, Phone: +44-18-40-77-95-38
Kynance Cove is a lovely cove located on the eastern side of Cornwall's Mount Bay, located approximately two miles north of Lizard Point on the beautiful Lizard Peninsula. The cove was a popular site for famed visitors throughout the Victorian era, including Queen Victoria herself, along with Prince Albert and poet Alfred Tennyson. Today, it has been designated as part of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the West Lizard Site of Specific Scientific Interest and has been described as one of the nation's South West area's most beautiful coastline stretches. Visitors can explore the region's beautiful South West Coast Path, which connects the cove to nearby Somerset and Dorset along a gorgeous stretch of cliffs.
© Boris Stroujko/stock.adobe.com
St. Ives is a lovely seaside town in Cornwall, located just north of the city of Penzance along the coast of the beautiful Celtic Sea. In 2010 and 2011, the town was named as the United Kingdom's Best Seaside Town by the British Travel Awards, known as one of the nation's most popular seaside resort towns. It has historically been known as a famed artist colony, home to artists throughout the 20th century such as Alfred Wallis, Christopher Wood, Ben Nicholson, and Naum Gabo. Visitors can explore the Tate St. Ives gallery of the beautiful Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, which preserves the works of the late artist's intact studio. Excellent surfing beaches are found at Porthmeor, while scenic boat trips embark from the city regularly to nearby Seal Island. Annual special events include the St. Ives Feast and the St. Ives September arts festival.
Boscastle is a charming village and fishing port along Cornwall's northern coast, located within the civil parish of Forrabury and Minster five miles northeast of the town of Tintagel. The picturesque city harbor was originally protected in 1584 by stone walls constructed by Sir Richard Grenville and is known today as a popular tourist destination. Visitors can explore fantastic attractions such as the unique Museum of Witchcraft, the quaint Boscastle Pottery Shop, and the gemstone-focused Uncle Paul's Emporium. Much of the town's land is overseen by the National Trust, include the iconic Forrabury Stitches and Valency Valley natural areas.
14.Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps
Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps is a unique stretch of coastline located along the northern coastline of Cornwall between the towns of Newquay and Padstow, overseen by the National Trust as part of the town of St. Eval. The region has been inhabited since at least the Bronze Age, home to attractions such as the remains of Redcliff Castle promontory fort defense. In 2014, the region was granted Dark Sky status to protect it from light pollution from surrounding urban areas. Many historic shipwrecks have happened along the coast area, which is home to dramatic pointed stacks that make for a dramatic panorama against the Atlantic Ocean coast. Visitors can scale the beachfront region's steep cliff staircase for stunning views or dine at the National Trust-maintained cafe atop the cliff area.
B3276 PL27 7UW, United Kingdom, Phone: +44-16-37-86-05-63
© Michelle Rhodes/stock.adobe.com
Tintagel Castle is a lovely Medieval-era fortification located atop the peninsula of Tintagel Island, adjacent to the lovely village of Tintagel in North Cornwall. The castle was originally constructed in the 13th century by Richard, First Earl of Cornwall, and was recovered as part of archaeological investigations starting in the 19th century. The castle's remains have become a major tourist attraction due to their association with the legend of King Arthur, which dates back to a 12th-century account by Geoffrey of Monmouth within the fictionalized British history account Historia Regum Britanniae. Today, it is overseen by Charles, Prince of Wales as part of the Duchy of Cornwall land holdings and is managed by the English Heritage.
Castle Rd, Tintagel PL34 0HE, UK, Phone: +44-37-03-33-11-81
Fistral Beach is a beautiful public beach located along Fistral Bay at Cornwall's northern Atlantic Ocean coast, approximately one-half mile west of the town of Newquay. The charming beach stretches for approximately 2,460 feet and is bounded by Towan head and Pentire Point East, backed by a landscape of steep, dramatic sand dunes. It is one of Cornwall's best-known surfing spots, serving as the venue for a number of major international surfing competitions throughout the year. Visitors can explore the beach's surf museum or hit the waves at the Cribbar, which features wave swells as high as 30 feet at prime tide conditions.
Land’s End is a popular holiday complex in western Cornwall, located at the region's westernmost mainland point along the Penwith Peninsula, approximately eight miles southwest of Penzance. The point is best known as one of the far points of Great Britain's longest journey, known as "The First and Last," stretching all the way to John O'Groats. Visitors can explore the beautiful coastline stretch as part of self-guided tours or through a number of tour operators based in nearby Penzance. Popular tourist attractions include the beautiful Sennen Cove, which features spectacular sea views, and a delightful restaurant and hotel that operate year-round.
Land's End, Sennen, Penzance TR19 7AA, UK, Phone: +44-17-36-87-15-01
18.The Seafood Restaurant
© The Seafood Restaurant
The Seafood Restaurant is a delicious restaurant in Padstow that was originally opened in 1975 by married duo Jill and Rick Stein. The restaurant is renowned for its delicious fresh fish and shellfish entrees, carefully prepared by executive chef Stephane Delourme. Diners can observe chef preparation at the restaurant's open-plan seafood bar, which prepares platters of oysters, sashimi, and langoustines to order. Excellent entrees served up throughout the week include classic favorites like lobster Thermidor, whole Dover sole, and traditional cod and chips baskets, served up alongside internationally-influenced selections like Indonesian seafood and prawn curry and roast troncon of wild turbot served English-style with hollandaise sauce.
Riverside, Padstow PL28 8BY, UK, Phone: +44-18-41-53-27-00
© Kota Restaurant
Kota Restaurant is one of only three four-star restaurants in Cornwall, named as one of Britain's top 50 summer restaurants by The Telegraph. The restaurant, which is overseen by New Zealand immigrant and executive chef Jude Kereama, is located directly on Porthleven's harbor head and has been consistently acclaimed by international organizations such as the Good Food Guide and Bib Gourmand. Diners can enjoy excellent gourmet fare on the restaurant's continually-rotating menus, including Cornish duck breast croquettes, pan-fried hake with mussels and crab raviolo, and saffron-infused shellfish and squid John Dory. Decadent dessert options include selections like poached rhubarb with blood orange cream, chocolate mousse with passion fruit gel, and blue cheese ice cream prepared with port and red wine poached pears.
PORTHLEVEN, Harbour Head, HELSTON, PORTHLEVEN TR13 9JA, UK, Phone: +44-13-26-56-24-07
20.Number 6 in Padstow
© Number 6 in Padstow
Number 6 in Padstow is a delightful Padstow restaurant housed within a restored Georgian townhouse in the heart of the city's downtown district. The Michelin-starred restaurant, which is helmed by executive chef Paul Ainsworth, is known for its modern British food, which focuses on dishes crafted with locally-sourced Cornish produce. Diners can enjoy delicious fare such as Cornish hogget with celeriac fricassee, chicken tournedos rossini with summer ragout, aged soy-glazed duck with clear Peking tea, and filet of beef crafted with bacon mousseline and pomme noodle. After dinner, guests can enjoy decadent dessert options such as poached strawberry tarts with elderflower jam and daily petit four selections with almond, chocolate, and fresh fruit.
6 Middle St, Padstow PL28 8AP, UK, Phone: +44-18-41-53-20-93
21.Restaurant Nathan Outlaw
© Restaurant Nathan Outlaw
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw is a lovely restaurant located atop Port Isaac, overlooking the views of the beautiful Cornish coastline. The restaurant is helmed by executive chef Nathan Outlaw, known for his work at Outlaw's Fish Kitchen. Outlaw is known throughout Great Britain as the author of five successful cookbooks and for his appearances on national television programs such as Saturday Kitchen and Masterchef Professionals. Diners can enjoy excellent fare within the restaurant's intimate dining room or its charming downstairs kitchen bar. Seasonal seafood tasting menus are served up throughout the week, highlighting delicious fare like turbot with smoked hollandaise or fennel bass with spider crab sauce. Matching wine flights are available to pair with all tasting menus for an additional fee.
6 New Rd, Port Isaac PL29 3SB, UK, Phone: +44-12-08-88-08-96
22.The Victoria Inn
© The Victoria Inn
The Victoria Inn is a charming pub and inn in Truro, located approximately three miles from the Royal Cornwall Museum near attractions such as the Chapel Porth Beach. The cozy bed and breakfast facility showcases four modern rooms that offer en suite bathrooms and amenities such as flat screen televisions and complimentary wireless internet. All guests can enjoy full complimentary breakfast and dine at the inn's delicious pub, which is also open to the public as a full-service restaurant. Award-winning entrees include delicious selections like Cornish filet of hake with hazelnut buerre noisette, rose harissa beef bavette with fondant potatoes, and sea bream with king prawn tabbouleh and roast sumac cauliflower. Pets and children are welcome to dine at the restaurant alongside their families at the restaurant's outdoor enclosed terrace garden area.
Chyvelah Rd, Threemilestone, Truro TR3 6BY, UK, Phone: +44-18-72-27-83-13
22 Best Things to Do in Cornwall, UK
- The Eden Project, Photo: Ian Woolcock/stock.adobe.com
- Lizard Point, Photo: hwtravel/stock.adobe.com
- The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Photo: robynmac/stock.adobe.com
- St Michael’s Mount, Photo: pixssell/stock.adobe.com
- The Minack Theatre, Photo: George/stock.adobe.com
- The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, Photo: kritkanok/stock.adobe.com
- Mousehole, Photo: Nicholas/stock.adobe.com
- Tresco Abbey Gardens, Photo: andrewmroland/stock.adobe.com
- Bodmin Moor, Photo: valeryegorov/stock.adobe.com
- Saint Nectan’s Glen, Photo: valeryegorov/stock.adobe.com
- Kynance Cove, Photo: hardyuno/stock.adobe.com
- St. Ives, Photo: Boris Stroujko/stock.adobe.com
- Boscastle, Photo: chris2766/stock.adobe.com
- Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps, Photo: annacurnow/stock.adobe.com
- Tintagel Castle, Photo: Michelle Rhodes/stock.adobe.com
- Fistral Beach, Photo: chris148/stock.adobe.com
- Land’s End, Photo: petr189617/stock.adobe.com
- The Seafood Restaurant, Photo: The Seafood Restaurant
- Kota Restaurant, Photo: Kota Restaurant
- Number 6 in Padstow, Photo: Number 6 in Padstow
- Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Photo: Restaurant Nathan Outlaw
- The Victoria Inn, Photo: The Victoria Inn
- Cover Photo: Doug Armand/stock.adobe.com